In Canada, there is a court case currently being heard regarding a man who was disfellowshipped (excommunicated) from a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses; this man is asking the courts to intervene, based on the argument that disfellowshipping and its subsequent shunning is something of a public health hazard, detriment to society, and so on.
I won’t comment on this disfellowshipping itself but during his arguments, this lawyer had the gall to say that, when someone is disfellowshipped from the religion, “normal family relations continue, with the exception of spiritual fellowship.”
Listen to that statement here, in its context:
Any former member of the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses knows that this is an outright, blatant lie. Families are absolutely torn apart when someone is disfellowshipped, and not by the disfellowshipped person himself or herself; that person may want to, and try very hard to, continue their relationship with their family, but they get shut down and shut out by those active JW family members.
Communication and association isn’t even what you would call minimal, as sometimes a disfellowshipped person will only hear about births, deaths, weddings, and other important news through non-JW family members or newspaper announcements. An active member of the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses may not see their own grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, if that child’s parent is disfellowshipped.
When a child, a teenager, is disfellowshipped, they may be allowed to stay in the home until they are of legal age, but may be ostracized by the family while still under the same roof. You don’t need to imagine what this abusive, neglectful treatment does to anyone’s, and especially to a child’s, self-esteem and self-image, and to their mental and emotional development; some psychologists have said that “long-term ostracism can result in alienation, depression, helplessness and feelings of unworthiness.” (See this report.) This type of treatment is nothing short of abuse.
You also don’t need to take my word for how disfellowshipped ones are treated by their family members; the religion itself has contradicted their own lawyer’s statement, publicly, repeatedly, in print. As an example, in the October 2016 study edition of the Watchtower, page 16, the subject of disfellowshipped family members was discussed, and it was stated outright that congregants must “avoid contact” with these ones, even through text messages and social media:
So, Watchtower, which is it? Normal family relations continue, as your lawyer blatantly claimed in court, or you’re not supposed to contact a disfellowshipped family member, even through a simple text message or email?
Abusing your family, even children, with this harsh, disgusting practice of shunning is bothersome enough, but lying about it, publicly and in a court of law, is inexcusable. It also reflects, in my opinion, the fact that Watchtower knows this practice is nothing but hurtful and hateful, and it does indeed tear families apart; they know the results of disfellowshipping include the creation of snarling, self-righteous congregants angrily harassing their own family, in order to humiliate and degrade them, so Watchtower needs to whitewash and outright lie about it in court.
Whatever this lying, unprofessional, unscrupulous, unethical lawyer says, the truth is that normal family relations do not continue after someone is disfellowshipped, unless, of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses think that abuse, harassment, humiliation, isolation, anger, and degradation are normal. Come to think of it, based on the experiences I’ve seen and heard over the years, that might actually be the most truthful statement about the religion anyone could make.
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